“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Nelson Mandela
I know I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy studying like a good Yoga Teacher in Training! But, what better excuse for a new post than one in honour of Love Your Body Day (October 19th) and End Fat Talk Week (October 16-22nd)!!
If you've read my previous posts in this blog, then you are already well aware that I am a very body-positive kind of gal. But that doesn't mean that I still don't struggle. It is difficult to be body-positive in a not-very-body-positive sort of world.
Every single day, I am bombarded with messages that fat is bad and thin is in. I am surrounded by people who use self-deprecating talk. Nothing is more demoralizing than being in a room filled with women who all talk about how they hate their bodies, and that is my every day reality. Making comments about hating your hips, your muffin-top, your thighs, your hair, your nose, your whatever - seems to be a socially acceptable way for women to bond with each other. By choosing to love my body, I am forever excluded from that club. Not being a member is okay with me, but it doesn't change the fact that the constant message surrounding me is that the majority of women behave this way, so I should too.
I get funny looks and arched eyebrows when everyone in the room (most of them quite slender) are talking about their diets and I am just sipping my coffee and keeping my mouth shut. After all, as the fat girl in the room, I should be right there on the bandwagon with them, right? Except that I'm not.
I don't want to feel obligated to make some socially acceptable comment about feeling guilty about that brownie I'm about to eat. I'd rather eat the brownie, enjoy it, and move on with my day rather than spend more time feeling guilty about the indulgence than finding pleasure in it. In my opinion, I have two choices: eat the brownie, or don't eat the brownie. If I CHOOSE to eat the brownie, than I'm going to pay attention and enjoy it. If I choose NOT to eat the brownie, it's going to be because I'm not hungry, it doesn't sound appetizing, and I don't want to - not because I feel guilty or have outlawed brownies.
Being body-positive is a challenge. It makes me unpopular at times. That's hard. We are, after all, social creatures and most of us spend our lives craving the acceptance of others. But it's a lifestyle I am committed to living. It makes me happy. It makes me feel like I can do anything. EVERYONE deserves to feel that way.
Have you ever seen the movie Mean Girls? In one scene, all the "popular" girls pose in front of the mirror declaring something they hate about themselves while the others offer insincere pity and nods of understanding. The heroine of the tale, having been homeschooled and not exposed to this odd 'game' can't figure out what to say she hates about her body - so she tries and ends up confessing that she has really bad breath in the morning. The thing is, having not been exposed to peer pressure her whole life, she had no concept of why she even *should* dislike anything about her body. So, when pressured to come up with something - she couldn't. It's a playful and glaring example of the ways that body-hate is "popular" and body-love is not understood or accepted in a general way.
When a fat girl says "I love my body exactly how it is", she risks being met with shock, disgust, pity, or even outrage. How dare I, as a fat person, choose to stay fat? The very idea! It's completely unrelatable to most.
Maybe it's unrealistic to expect that people would nod approvingly at this declaration, the same as they would if I said "Wow, I hate being fat, I need to go on a diet!". But it's what needs to start happening. We need to start recognizing that how someone chooses to occupy their body is their choice and to live your life accepting yourself is a pretty big accomplishment. Let's start acknowledging it as such!
We all need to look at the message we send to our friends, our coworkers, our family members, and even strangers when we withhold our approval, affection, or encouragement from those who seem happy with themselves or refuse to engage in fat talk or self-deprecating behaviours.
Why is it easier to encourage someone on a diet "You can do it!" "I'm so proud of you", than it is to offer approval over loving their body and feeling confident "It's so great that you are comfortable in your body, how awesome!".
The bottom line is, that it doesn't matter what colour your skin is, where you come from, how tall, short, fat, thin, muscled, scrawny, non-stereotypical, feminine, non-feminine, masculine, non-masculine, curvy, straight, bendy, pimpled, bald, furry, or unusual your appearance is because...
"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection" ~ Buddha
This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival
For more information about Love Your Body Day, Body-Positivity, or the fight to end Fat Talk, I would encourage you to visit these fantastic sites for more information, resources, and general fabulousness:
NOW Foundation's Love Your Body Day
Take the pledge to End Fat Talk
The Body Positive